(c) Felix Shardlow v.0.1 4th May 2016
Also available in French / en Français
Good communication within a team is essential for good teamwork, combined with trust in your team mates communications. When you receive communication from a team mate, you should immediately act on it, and then re-assess the situation. Very rarely should communication from a team mate be assessed before being put into action.
Communication should be near-constant during a point of Flex. If any of the principles are being disobeyed then there should be a lot of noise on the field – if an offensive player is unmarked, all defenders should know about it and be working together constantly to remedy the situation.
The 3 ways to communicate in Flex
- Eye-contact – opens the channel of communication between two defenders
- Gesticulation – directs attention to a particular area or person
- Vocalisation – gives detailed information or instructions
Eye-contact between defenders should happen whenever they have the opportunity – usually when their marks are not moving and they are re-assessing the situation. A moment of eye-contact has multiple immediate benefits:
- Communication channel is opened. If there is anything you or your team mate wish to communicate to each other, you have each others attention so are able to do so, through facial expressions, gesticulation, or vocalisation. A neutral look saying “everything is OK” is useful in itself.
- Each defender gets knowledge of their teammate’s position, and the position of their teammate’s mark. They also know that their teammate is aware of their situation – which opens up the opportunity for switches or sandwiches.
- Defenders are put “on the same page”. The chance for miscommunication is minimised, and a good base for teamwork is established.
Gesticulation conveys more specific information, and can be recognised by many defenders at the same time. Usually the meaning of any gesticulation is self-explanatory – here are some examples:
- Pointing to an offence player or players – depending on the context, this can either mean you are marking them, or that your team mate should mark them. Pointing to two or three players (by using two or three fingers) is a quick way of initiating a sandwich with a team mate.
- Open-hand gesturing can be used to indicate what area you are covering in a ‘sandwiching’ situation, and to move defending team mates around to improve coverage.
Vocalisation is the most flexible form of communication, and can be reach all defenders within earshot. Any information conveyed vocally also carries with it information about where on the field the shout is coming from, and the tone / volume of the shout indicates the level of urgency. Shouts should be accompanied by pointing, to give more specific information to team mates who have you in their field of view, or who turn to look when they hear the shout. Here are some shouts which have proved to be useful in Flex:
- Push – used to move nearby defenders away from you. This is useful when you realise you are both covering the same space, or when you see an unmarked offensive player the other side of a team mate. When you hear “Push”, you should initially move directly away from where the voice came from, before reassessing the situation. Example animation here.
- Pull – the opposite to ‘Push’, use “Pull” when you want defenders to come towards you, or to an area near you. This is useful when you find yourself covering two or more players, or when you can see an unmarked offensive player nearby. When you hear “Pull”, you should initially move towards where the voice came from, before reassessing the situation. Example animation here.
- Switch – also used in person defence, a ‘switch’ call is used when two defenders wish to swap their marks. Switches are best called by the player whose new mark is the option the thrower is looking at, and (as according to the principles), should only be called when you know (a) who your new mark will be, and (b) that your old mark will be covered.
- Sandwich – used when offensive players are stood in close proximity to one another, and the defenders wish to take advantage of the inefficiency and ‘surround’ the opposition. Sandwiches can involve any number of defenders, but should always involve an equal number of offensive players– 2v2, 3v3, 4v4 etc. In Mixed, sandwiches should usually be gender-specific, so surrounding a vertical stack should effectively be looked at as 2v2 & 3v3, rather than 5v5.
- Left/right – can be used to move a team mate when you are out of their line of sight. If a team mate has their back to you, your left is their left, so directing them with left/right shouts is relatively straightforward. When they are facing you, gesticulation is more effective.
- “I’m here” – can be used to notify your nearby team mates of your presence – particularly useful if you have just followed your mark across the field without switching, and wish to let new nearby team mates of the opportunity to use teamwork.
There are a number of ways the sideline can help Flex greatly:
- Up shouts for every pass. The length and tone of the “Up” shout can help convey the type of pass made. This is very useful for players who aren’t in a position to actually see the pass being made – it lets them know the angle of attack is changing, the stall count is resetting (see Advanced Flex Part IV: The Stall-3 Game Changer), and that the disc is momentarily in the air so an immediate throw is not possible.
- Any defensive mis-positioning – identify and alert players to any situations where a defender is not marking a specific player, marking two players, or when there is a free offensive player on the field.
- The thrower’s focus – let the defender nearest to where the thrower is focusing their attention know that the thrower is looking, so they can be extra vigilant.
- High stall counts – lots of noise & “here it comes” from the sideline to let defenders know a pass is coming very soon, so they should tighten up to their mark and be ready for the unexpected.